Cleaning for a Reason

October 28th, 2010 by Dionna | Comments Off on Cleaning for a Reason
Posted in Community Service, Compassionate Advocacy, Just for Fun/Miscellaneous

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This the last in a four part series in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am collaborating with Jen, who writes at The Dinoia Family, and Sarah, who writes at Balancing Act and who authored What Not to Say. Please stop by the previous three posts for ideas on how to help a parent undergoing cancer treatment, how to talk to young children about cancer, and what to say (and what not to say) to someone newly diagnosed with cancer.


Cleaning for a Reason offers free professional housecleaning and maid services to women undergoing cancer treatment. Pretty awesome, huh?

I talked to Mike, the executive director of Cleaning for a Reason, and he filled me in on the organization’s mission and work. Here is what I learned from Mike:

Why did your founders decide to focus on housecleaning?

Cleaning for a Reason’s founder, Debbie Sardone, owned a maid service company. One day, Debbie took a phone call from a woman inquiring about services and fees. Debbie gave her the quote and the woman said, “I cannot afford that right now, I am going through cancer,” and hung up.

Debbie felt awful, but she didn’t have a number to call the woman back. She created a company policy that whenever possible, if she encountered a similar situation, she would try to help by donating services.

She shared her idea at a maid service convention, and many maid service owners were interested in the project. Debbie returned home after the convention, filed paperwork to form a 501(c)(3), and started recruiting maid services for her new non-profit.

What is your mission statement?

Cleaning for a Reason offers free professional housecleaning to improve the lives of women undergoing treatment for cancer.

How can women apply for cleaning services?

You can see complete instructions for applying online, but here it is in a nutshell. On Cleaning for a Reason’s website, click on the Locations tab to see if there is a partner in your area. If there is, you will then need to register under the Cancer Patients tab Monday through Thursday at 12:00p.m. The application process is on a “first come first serve” basis.

Why did you decide to do daily “first come first serve” applications instead of a waiting list?

It’s mainly an issue of personnel and partners. We currently have around 750 partners who agree to take a minimum of two patients at a time, each patient gets one free cleaning per month for four months. There are several million women with cancer. We are a small non-profit organization – only five employees! There is just no way we can manage a waiting list. Additionally, there is a requirement that women be in active cancer treatment – if the waiting list was months long, women might be off treatments by the time their name came up on a list.

How many women have you helped?

Over 4,000 women.

How many women have you had to turn away?

Over 8,000 women.

What have been your biggest challenges to date?

Managing patient expectations. Most people hear about Cleaning for a Reason through social networking (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) – the message says something like “I heard about a great organization that helps women with cancer by cleaning their homes for free! All you have to do is go to the site, sign up, send in a doctor’s note, and they will contact a maid service for you.”

That’s not the way it works, and many women are disappointed because we cannot serve everyone who contacts us. Although we wish we could help every woman undergoing cancer treatments, our resources are extremely limited.

What about your biggest success?

This will sound simple, but every time we match a patient up with a maid service, that is a success. While it is discouraging that we cannot help more women, we try to focus on and celebrate every woman we do help.

What can my readers do to help your organization?

The backbone of our organization is our partner network. We recruit professional maid service companies that are insured and/or bonded, and we perform background checks on their employees. The more maid services we partner with, the more women we help.

  • If your readers own a maid service, please contact the foundation.
  • If your readers use a maid service, please ask them if they are part of Cleaning for a Reason; if they are not, ask them why not!
  • If your readers are looking for a maid service, use a local company that is a Cleaning for a Reason partner – support those companies who donate their time and energy to helping women undergoing cancer treatments.

The other way your readers can help is by giving individual donations.

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